Sinitic languages are normally classified as isolating; as to Mandarin Chinese, it is often assumed that grammaticalisation processes are strongly constrained by its typological features. It has been claimed that secondary grammaticalisation, i.e. increase in morphological bonding/fusion, phonetic erosion, and semantic bleaching, does not generally occur in isolating languages; moreover, Bisang (2008) proposes that the lack of "coevolution of meaning and form" in grammaticalisation is an areal feature of the languages of East and mainland Southeast Asia. Basing on data from Northern Chinese dialects, I shall show that there are many counterexamples to the proposed typological and areal restrictions; I shall also argue that although the evolution on the formal level of signs is triggered by (primary) grammaticalisation, it may be carried on independently of the degree of grammaticalisation of the sign and of the context. (C) 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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